BlackBerry has returned to the tablet market with a device called the SecuTABLET, unveiled at the CeBIT 2015 trade show in Hannover, with the new device comprising of a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 preinstalled with BlackBerry’s security software for Android.
The new device is aimed at users in businesses in regulated industries (such as healthcare) that are subject to special security requirements, as well as government departments.
The device comes preloaded with software developed by Secusmart, a company BlackBerry purchased last year that develops high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping technology. The tablet will allow users to run unsecured apps, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp, alongside apps that are protected using IBM’s secure app wrapping technology. IBM’s involvement with the product, in turn, is interesting in light of its work with Apple on a suite of apps that, in some cases, compete against some of BlackBerry’s products.
In July last year, BlackBerry chief executive John Chen dismissed Samsung’s Knox platform as a “fortress upon an insecure foundation”. However, since then, the two companies worked together on allowing BlackBerry’s BES 12 mobile device management (MDM) platform to manage Samsung Knox containers, with BlackBerry BES12 also able to manage Google’s Android for Work platform. (In August of last year, SmartCompany presented this video review of Samsung Knox.)
The closer collaboration has prompted speculation Samsung could be interested in purchasing BlackBerry, especially for its software and services businesses. This led the Canadian smartphone maker to issue a statement in January that it “has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry”.
The SecuTABLET also represents a return to the tablet market for BlackBerry, with former chief executive Thorsten Heins once describing the company’s now discontinued PlayBook tablet as a “crappy product” without enough memory.
In September of last year, BlackBerry unveiled an app called BlackBerry Blend that allows users to access BBM, text messages, email, calendar, their corporate intranet and important files from a BlackBerry smartphone on an Android tablet over a secure connection.